4 Films About Young People That Spark Change

4 Films About Young People That Spark Change

Documentary storytelling helps us see the world from unfamiliar and unexpected vantage points. Films also work as powerful tools to create real change for some of the world’s most pressing issues. Read Law’s recommendations for stories that centre on young experiences on your watch lists.

Whenever I finish watching a good doco, I usually feel pretty charged to do something. I like to channel my joy or rage into constructive actions, like support the cause in some way or even just madly tell other people about it so they can feel all the feels that I did. 

My energy can quickly fizzle if there’s nowhere for me to put it, which is why I love these four stories. They put young voices at the centre to create meaningful impact—and they give (or will give!) people like me things to do to be part of the change.

2040 (2019)

When award-winning filmmaker Damon Gameau (That Sugar Film) became concerned about the kind of planet his four-year-old daughter Velvet would inherit, he set off around the world to find hope. He asked young people their visions for the future, and spoke to many innovators and experts who already have the solutions for reversing global warming and improving every natural and man-made system on earth.

2040 is a story that makes a prosperous future possible for Velvet and her generation—termed ‘The Regeneration’—that’s now a global movement giving people ways to learn about, contribute to and invest in regenerative solutions long after the film credits roll. In just five months since the film’s release, the Regeneration movement has already raised over $100,000 for regenerative energy, agriculture and marine projects.

What you can do
Head to whatsyour2040.com to watch the film and join the movement.

In My Blood It Runs (2019)

Filmmaker Maya Newell (Gayby Baby) walks us along with ten-year-old Dujuan Hoosan, a young Arrente and Garrwa boy living in Alice Springs who is a healer and speaks three languages yet is ‘failing’ in school and at risk of becoming incarcerated. We feel Dujuan’s complex challenges as his family fight to give him a strong community education alongside his western education, and he finds space to dream and hope for what his future holds. This is an all-too-familiar experience of many Indigenous Australian families and yet the perspectives of young people are often left out of the story. 

In My Blood It Runs is part of a broader impact campaign, and 12-year-old Dujuan is now an advocate for change, sharing his story at the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. Dujuan is the youngest person ever to address this council. The film’s team is working with national partners to deliver on key impact goals, developed in consultation with Dujuan and his family as well as an advisory group of senior Arrernte and Garrwa Elders and leaders. 

What you can do
Head to the website to watch the film and find out how to take action on the key impact goals.

The Staging Post (2017)

What happened when Australia said, “stop the boats”? The Staging Post follows the story of Muzafar and Khadim, two Afghan Hazara refugees who felt the harsh impacts of that slogan. Stuck in Indonesia and facing many years in limbo, Australian filmmaker Jolyon Hoff shows us how they built a community and started a school, the Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre, which has inspired a refugee-led education revolution and helped hundreds of refugee children access education.

The Staging Post has become a strong antidote to the negative refugee narratives that pervade our media. The filmmaking experience has radically changed director Jolyon’s life, compelling him to start Australian charity Cisarua Learning which raises over $150,000 per year to support refugee-led education initiatives in Indonesia, of which there are now many.

What you can do
Head to the website to watch the film and support the production of Staging Post 2, due out in early 2020.

More Learning, Less Activism (coming 2019)

In 2019, Australian students defied pressure to stay in school and went on strike for climate action, joining what was one of the largest global youth-led movements the world has seen. This film is their story.

With the guidance of filmmaker Rob Innes (ABC TV), 12 young people from around Australia take out their phones and personal cameras and bring us into their worlds. They show us all what it’s really like to be young today, organising protests and growing up facing an uncertain future amidst what was termed the ‘climate election’ of 2019.

Sadly, the trailer is all we can see for now, but the three-part web series will be released on Junkee Media soon. The team has plans to extend the call beyond the film so organisations and individuals can continue to get behind young people and the climate movement.

What you can do
Watch the trailer and support the production on the Documentary Australia Foundation website.

Bonus films I can’t wait for

Keep a close eye on these upcoming film releases from the Documentary Australia Foundation and follow the brilliant impact campaigns for young people that are evolving around them.

Born To Stand Out
Smashing Australia’s damaging stereotype that young Africans are criminals or gang members.

No Distinguishing Features
Six people living with disabilities who were given a strict roadmap for their life from birth go on to tear that to shreds.

Water For Birds
An NGO-run education centre in North India provides vulnerable local children with art therapy to protect them from human trafficking and multi-generation prostitution.